The Ministry of Works, Housing and Infrastructure which had gone for almost two years without a substantive Minister is allegedly embroiled in dubious management of government assets.
During physical verification of Government Quarters, it was discovered by the auditors that part of a government quarter was demolished without authorization to construct a private structure.
According to the auditors this was the B23 Ministerial Quarter occupied by the Sierra Leone High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Ambassador Edward M. Turay who had been served letters to vacate the quarter. In addition, there were 17 government quarters that were occupied by either retired personnel, families of personnel, who had either retired, died or been transferred/posted on foreign assignment, the report claimed.
The report further disclosed that assets purchased during the period under review amounting to Le368, 003,500 were not serially coded with unique identification marks. Also the Ministry maintained large number of damaged pieces of furniture and other assets which could be repaired, along the corridors and in some offices despite the fact that the Ministry had a carpentry workshop.
It was observed by the auditors that eight companies which fell under category ‘A’ were involved in quarry operations in the country during the year under review but that they were not registered with the Ministry. As a result, they also failed to pay the required sum of Le25, 000,000 to NRA for blasting and Le5, 000,000 to the Ministry for monitoring. The total amount in arrears by those companies was Le240, 000,000.
The auditors also discovered improper payroll management, that is to say, 18 staff had reached the statutory retirement age of 60 years but were still on the payroll receiving salaries amounting to Le172,633,969; 76 personnel of the Ministry failed to turn up for physical verification and total salaries paid to them amounted to Le477, 509, 964; a staff abandoned his duty station without authorization and his name was still on the payroll; salaries totaling Le1,702,212 were paid into the accounts of two staff, who died during the year but their names were still on the payroll at the time of writing the report; and 31 personnel files were not updated with relevant documents such as letters of appointment, acceptance and transfer.
Payments without supporting documents were also discovered by the auditors. These include withdrawals totaling Le184, 069,500 made from the Miatta Conference Account, Emergency Works Account and Imprest and Admin Account respectively were without supporting documents such as payment vouchers, invoices, receipts, delivery notes and back to office report.
Of course it goes without saying that procurement procedures were not followed. The Ministry did not follow procurement procedures in awarding contracts for consultancy services for the design, tender and full supervision of construction works for a new ministerial building. Whilst a contract for feasibility studies of eight trunk roads which totaled Le773, 912,000 had no request and solicitation from the Ministry or expressions of interest from bidders. Even though the procurement officer and the internal auditor recommended that the Ministry should liaise with SLRA for the award of contracts for the construction of trunk roads, the Ministry did not follow their recommendations.
In addition to the above, there were no minutes of procurement committee meetings and approvals by the committee. The auditors observed that the professional wing of the Ministry had done a similar design for the new Ministerial Building for which the contract had been awarded. Also procurement of works, goods and services totaling Le14, 168,845,828 were not done according to procurement procedures. These procurements, according to the report, were done through restrictive bidding method instead of National and International Competitive Bidding methods as required by the Public Procurement Act, while the procurement activities were also not advertised.